Magic Spray for a Happy Hairdo

Something you may not have considered; herbs do not have to be used strictly for your health. They can also be used for your sanity.

Like I did as a child (and still do), my 2 year old toddler has rather unruly hair. If ignored for more than a day, especially if she has gotten it wet, it turns into a hazy honey-colored halo of what are supposed to be curls. Also like me as a child, she HATES to get her hair combed. I tried to escape the inevitable torture by telling my mom that I did not want to brush it because my hair had feelings. It didn’t work which, with hair long enough to sit on, was a good thing (thanks, Mom!)

When my daughter’s hair finally started growing and needing to be brushed, I determined to help her enjoy it so it wouldn’t have to be a battle every morning.

Thus I am proud to introduce . . . our Magic Spray!

The magic ingredient . . .  Psychology. I filled a little spray bottle with water, added some lavender infusion, and tada, we were ready to tackle those tangles! She loves starting off our brushing session with a few yummy smelling sprays of lavender and mini head massage while I disperse it evenly through her curls. She will even sit relatively patiently while I work through her couple snarls and “style” the front by brushing it out of her eyes. Even better, if Daddy is home then she has the added enjoyment of hearing from him how pretty she looks and how sweet she smells!

While Magic Spray works by letting your child think it is doing something & giving you enough time to work through their tangles, most actual detanglers work by either coating the hair strands to make them slippery or smoothing the individual hair cuticles. Unfortunately store-bought sprays are often made up of chemicals. The kind of chemicals I am trying to get OUT of my house, not blindly spray on my children’s heads. I found some recipes online for detangler that include heavier ingredients like conditioner or aloe vera gel. While these may help for my coarse, horse hair texture, I did not see them being a good thing for my 2 year old’s baby fine hair. I also chose to avoid any type of oil. We used coconut oil to work the cradle cap off her scalp a few weeks ago and my goodness, that was an experience I hope I never have to repeat with a toddler. Between the screaming during the event and the multiple baths it took to get the oil out, it was quite a production. Thus, I’m not going to risk making her hair too oily and will be sticking with herbs until her hair gets thicker and she needs more intensive ingredients.

I chose lavender because 1. I like it, 2. I had it on hand, and 3. I thought that it might make the whole experience more calming for everyone involved. Lavender, as well as chamomile, is apparently extra good for dry hair because it stimulates the sebaceous glands to produce oil. If you are dealing with dry hair this could be a benefit.

Another herb to consider adding (which makes total sense, seeing as you use it for soothing throats & making them slippery) is marshmallow root! Simply simmer an 2 Tbsp of marshmallow root in a small pot of water for up to 30 minutes, strain it, let it cool, and add it to your Magic Spray! I am going to try this on my own hair and report back.

Actually, though I started this post as a fun story about getting my daughter to let me brush her hair, with the additional research I have done, I am now realizing that I may benefit from a natural detangler even more than my daughter! I have incredibly thick, coarse, wavy black hair, thanks to my Dad’s Cuban genetics. It is also incredibly long; I just cut it from my hips up to my waist because my husband kept rolling on it & pinning me down by accident in his sleep! Not a good thing when you have a crying baby to feed. It also can take up to 35 or 40 minutes to comb, which leads to me not combing it, which makes it even worse. It is a vicious cycle. I will be experimenting with aloe vera, marshmallow root, maybe a bit of olive oil, and a few other things over the course of a few weeks.

If you would like to learn more about DIY detangler right now, check out this post on Mommypotamus.

In summary, my only caution (aside from making sure your child isn’t allergic to whichever herb you decide to use) is to choose a scent that you like A LOT because you will be smelling it everywhere. If your toddler is anything like mine, she will need to use it while brushing her stuffed animals, on the dog, on your hair if you are taking too long to brush it, on the baby if you are not cautious, on the little fluffy ducks in the bathtub, etc. Let’s just say it is popular around here. And it has saved us both a lot of tears.

Creating Herbal Goals for the New Year

herbal-goals

Almost 2 weeks into the new year and after plenty of thought about my priorities, lots of distraction dealing with sicknesses one after the other, and finding a few quiet moments to actually distill my thoughts into real practical ideas, I am excited to say that I have my 2017 goals for my herbal study!

I want to share with you how to create your own goals for enhancing your use of herbs in your family, and give you a peek at my goals for the year!

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Chamomile: Benefits & Uses

chamomile” The finest and safest of all medicinals”

is how Chamomile is described by Rosemary Gladstar. What’s not to love about Chamomile? It’s has beautiful little daisy-like flowers that would look great in any garden, it’s gentle enough even for babies, and it has so many uses! It is “commonly used for

-stomach stress,

-digestive complaints,

– nervous system disorders,

-inflammation in the joints,

-wounds.” (Herbal Healing for Women)

Quite a list isn’t it! As I typed that out, it struck me; that list is a relatively accurate summary of Lyme disease complaints, which might be one reason I’ve enjoyed using it so much!

What makes Chamomile so effective? It’s anti-inflammatory properties and its positive effects on the nervous system and digestive system can apparently be traced in part to Azulene, an active chemical in Chamomile. This blue volatile oil has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anodyne properties. ( Herbal Healing for Women)

Using Chamomile

Chamomile has been used for hundreds of years by cultures across the globe, mainly as a tea, topical treatment for skin issues, and as a tincture. It is safe for pregnant mamas & can be used to treat morning sickness in combination with ginger. Wish I had known that a few months ago! It is also an excellent addition to skincare products; you will likely find it in many if not most natural products on the market. Apparently the flavenoids in Chamomile soak into the skin easily and protect it from free radical sun damage. Over the last few weeks I have experimented with using Chamomile as a relaxing drink while snuggling on the couch with my husband at night, adding it to my cough & cold remedy as we’ve battled sickness, and using it as a diaper rash spray on my toddler. I’ve also started a Chamomile tincture, though that has a few weeks before it will be ready. So far, I have not been disappointed with it! And I am definitely making a prominent spot for it in my garden this summer!

When making Chamomile tea, most sources recommend anywhere from 1-2 tablespoons of herb per cup of boiling water. Chamomile has bitter properties that tones the digestive system; these properties become more pronounces the longer it is steeped, so if you would like a strong , but bitter tea, steep for about 20 minutes. If you are looking for a more mild, relaxing tea, steep for only 5-10 minutes. Of course these numbers are not set in stone, and if you happen to forget about your tea for a long while like I do, I can assure you that it still tastes great and seems to have a positive effect!

While Chamomile has a plethora of uses for stomach issues, digestive issues, and use as an ingredient in skincare, I want to talk a bit about a use very close to my heart;

Using Chamomile for babies & children.

Having a toddler and a new little girl on the way I am always looking for herbs that are safe and effective for babies. Many sources have strongly recommended using Chamomile to treat colic and digestive issues in little ones. After using gripe water, which contains Chamomile as well as Fennel and Catnip, to treat colic in my daughter Elsie as a baby, I can happily confirm that this worked. It wasn’t a miracle drug by any means, but it definitely calmed her down and it felt so good to be able to do something for her besides nursing nonstop.

Rosemary Gladstar suggests using Chamomile baths, both for adults and children, to relax and sooth. Since Chamomile is so gentle, she even suggests using it in baby’s first bath to make it extra comforting. Now, it took me months and months to work up to being able to give my daughter a bath without having her scream in terror (we did a lot of snuggle-with-mama-while-she-sponges-you-off type of baths) , so this would not have been super helpful for us. However, if you have a baby who enjoys the warm water, this may be just the extra bit of relaxation you both need for those extra cranky days.

Another way to use Chamomile for little ones is as a teething remedy! The blog Growing up Herbal suggests using a Chamomile tincture both topically on the erupting tooth and internally to help sooth teething pain. Something natural and DIY that can effectively treat teething pain? Yes please! I literally did not even finish reading the article before I jumped up and ran into the kitchen to start my Chamomile tincture and am very much looking forward to trying this with my daughters in the future. For your reference, here is blog post I wrote about making tinctures. The average adult dose of Chamomile tincture is 30 drops; here is my post on safely calculating children’s doses based off of adult doses for your convenience.

The last way I have used Chamomile with my daughter is as a diaper rash spray. She was having tummy problems that consequently led to a very red, sore, irritated diaper area that traditional diaper cream and antibiotic ointment were not helping. Instead, I made a strong infusion of Chamomile and Calendula and put it into a little bottle to spray her with after wiping. I also used bentonite clay as a diaper powder to sprinkle on after the diaper spray. They worked wonders! No I didn’t take before & after pictures, and no I’m not sorry because I respect my child’s privacy, but it was incredible. We went from a red painful diaper area to perfectly clear in a day or two. Better yet, she actually LIKES getting her diaper changed now. Instead of a flailing, kicking maniac, she cooperates and even hands me her spray and her “sprinkles” (powder) and laughs while I use them. I call that a success.

I’ll be updating this post with our experience using Chamomile tincture for teething after we try it. In the meantime I want to encourage you to add this wonder herb to your collection and to your garden come spring! I’d love to hear of any other experiences you have had using Chamomile as well; I’m always looking for new ideas!

 

Creating a Herbal Notebook

dsc_1054Creating a Herbal Notebook

I want to share with you an exciting tool I’ve put together to wrangle all the new information we are gathering about herbs; a Herb Notebook! I’ll share the benefits & purposes of an herb notebook, break down each category I have included and give ideas for filling each section, post photos of my own notebook in progress, and

best of all, I have included FREE printables of the beautiful title pages I designed for each section for you to start your own notebook.

Why Maintain a Herb Notebook?

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Garlic & Mullein Oil for Ear Infections

dsc_1028Crying, pulling on red, irritated little ears, boogery noses & cold symptoms that go along with it. Uhg. The dreaded ear infection. Fortunately we have not dealt with ear infections with our toddler yet, but I like to be prepared with the knowledge and supplies to treat things as they come up. Continue reading

Using Herbs for Babies & Kids

addtext_com_mtuwnza0mjkxmdy3-This post contains affiliate links-

Using herbs for kids can be incredibly beneficial, but also rather nerve-wracking. Sometimes it seems easier to just head to the pediatrician for some professional advice on your little munchkins’ earache or cough. Now I want to make it clear that  I definitely believe conventional medicine has it’s place. However I also want to encourage you to educate yourself enough to be able to confidently treat the everyday issues that crop up like colic and colds, as well as provide complementary treatment for more serious issues that you decide to treat more conventionally.

Discussing EVERYTHING pertaining to using herbs with children or EVERY herb to use/avoid would be outside the realm of one blog post. That said, I do want to share some basic principles regarding using herbs for kids that can help guide your treatment. I also want to share a short list of go-to herbs that are considered very safe for babies & children. Continue reading

New Week New Recipe: Elderberry Syrup

elderberry-syrup-recipeMonday is a day for fresh beginnings, tackling everything you ignored to spend time with your family on the weekend, and making new plans. My plan, especially as the cold sets in and winter is officially upon us, is to figure out how to prevent my family and myself from getting the flu bugs and colds that are going around. That means trying a new recipe!

Cue the Elderberry Syrup!

What is Elderberry Syrup, you ask? Continue reading

What do Herbs have to do with Homeschooling?

herbalism-and-homeschoolingWhy an herbal homeschool?

I just updated my domain name to be theherbalhomeschool.com. This has led to some reflection on my blog name and what it really means to be an herbal HOMEschool as opposed to sharing information as a herbal “school” or our homestead or any other cheesy name I could think up (and I am pretty good at that, let me tell you!)

I was homeschooled for 10 years, from 2nd grade through graduation.

Best Christmas present EVER! After spending a year in public school and 1.5 years in a private Christian school, I was more stressed and uptight than any eight year old should be. I begged to be homeschooled for months before winter break and all I asked for at Christmas was a note saying we could homeschool. I got it! We gathered up all my school supplies & books from the school and never looked back. Aside from repenting & becoming a Christian at a young age, being homeschooled by my incredible mom was easily one of the top things that has most influenced me throughout my life. Let me elaborate on how our vision for education influences my interest in herbalism. . . Continue reading

Herbal Tea; Infusions & Decoctions

herbal-tea-infusions-and-decoctionsTeas, Tinctures, Infusions, Decoctions, Oils, Salves, Capsules, etc. The number of different ways to prepare herbs can set your mind spinning! Not to mention the extra ingredients needed such as glycerin or alcohol for tinctures or beeswax for salves.

With so many choices at hand, I decided to stop stalling and begin with the most straightforward; teas.

After all, what could be more simple than putting some crumbly dry herbs in a jar of hot water? Turns out there are many nuances that need to be considered, Continue reading

Herbal Preparations

herbal-preparationsThere are so many different ways to prepare herbs, it can be overwhelming to find a place to begin! Do you pop some pills, down a tea, take a dropper-full of a tincture . . .  so many options! Your decision how to use your herbs will depend on how strong of a concentration you need (teas are weakest, then infusions, then tinctures are stronger), whether this is for long term maintenance (a tea would be better) or short term symptom relief (tincture every few hours) what part of the plant you are using, and of course, personal preference ( I HATE tea) Here are a few different kinds of preparation along with their pros and cons. Continue reading